Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Most Difficult Question To Answer for People on the Registration Form
The hardest question for people to answer on the registration is the weight question. I honestly understand for everyone who is packing some extra weight, revealing that is very personal. However, let me explain why we need it:
- We don’t care what you weigh. We keep any and all information provided on the registration form private and confidential.
- In order to pick a horse for you, we need some experience and weight guidelines. (example: A man weighing 225 pounds who is inexperienced is harder on a horse than a man weighing 275 who is an experienced rider)
- Women are very reluctant to give this one out. Since a lot of women pack their extra weight in their backside, they might need a saddle with a bigger tree. It’s easier to give that information to us upfront than to get you mounted in front of everyone, and then it becomes very obvious that we are going to have to change saddles right then and there. This then slows up the entire horsemanship orientation.
When should I book?
Because we are a one of a kind trip, if you were interested we recommend booking at least 15 months in advance to secure your place.
When should I arrive?
We need everyone to arrive in Sheridan, Wyoming the night before the trip starts. This allows everyone to get started the next day at the same time.
Where do I fly into?
The ranch is about 2 hours south of Billings. There are flights directly into Sheridan, Wyoming from Denver, Colorado and can be found by going to United Airlines.
What is the weather like?
I can answer that about as accurately as predicting any weather. We are generally in the mid to high 80s for the June trip and 90s for the July trip. The lows are generally in the 50s, but it will seem much colder when we are camped on the creeks. The September trips are a little cooler. Due to the fact that the September trip starts on the Big Horn Mountains at 9,000 feet in the third week in September, you need to come knowing that it can snow. Generally, we are in the high 60s to low 70s for a high and somewhere between 27 and 35 at night. We recommend a bag rated to 0 for this trip.
What type of sleeping bag do I need?
We recommend a bag rated to 10 for the June and July trips and one rated at 0 or below for the September trip or Clean Up Ride.
What type of horses do you have?
On the Double Rafter, 98% of our horses are Quarter Horses or Quarter Horse Cross.
How many cattle will we be taking?
The allotment allows for 648 cow-calf pairs.
Can I bring my own saddle?
You can certainly bring your own saddle. You will be more comfortable in your own verses a strange one. However, it is your responsibility to make sure your saddle is in proper working condition and has all the proper equipment.
Can I bring my own horse?
We are not responsible for any injury to your horse or guarantee your horse's safety. We allow it, but highly discourage it. Chances are very good that your horse is not conditioned enough to handle an entire week. You must remember we are at 9,000 feet, and our horses are conditioned for this climate and topography. One past guest asked about bringing his horses, and I directed him to the website. He chose not to after seeing the video, and after the trip, his comment was, “I am glad I left my poodles home.”
How many hours will I be in the saddle each day?
This is a little bit like the weather. Since this trip is the real thing, we will go until we finish the day and reach our destination. This is reality, not Hollywood! Generally, you will be in the saddle a MINIMUM of 6 hours a day.
I’m not the most experienced rider. Is that a problem?
Absolutely not! To the best of my knowledge, we are the only cattle drive in the US that starts every trip with a horsemanship clinic run by a clinician. Our goal is to get everyone mounted on a horse that fits their skill level. You cannot have the best week of your life on the wrong horse!
What is the minimum age?
We don’t recommend any of these trips for kids under the age of 12.
I have never handled cattle. Is that a problem?
We spend the afternoon of the first day on the June and July trips running a cattle-handling seminar. This will give you help and instruction on how to move cattle.
I don’t want a dude ranch!
I can promise you we are not a dude ranch. This is a real working family ranch where you will move the cattle, sleep under the stars, and battle the elements. This is not a trail ride.
How is your cattle drive different from the others?
We are a one-of-a-kind cattle drive. We don’t have guest cabins or other dude luxuries. We move our camp with the herd, sleep in tents, cook over the hot coals, and we do not ride nose to tail. You will be tired and dirty, and it’s a go rain or shine.
Are there dangers such as wild animals?
We have many different wild animals that you may see on the trip, including deer, moose, elk, black bears, and rattlesnakes. As far as we know, we do not have any grizzly bears. In the 25 years we have been running the cattle drives, we have never had anyone hurt by wild animals. However, wild animals are unpredictable.
How safe are your trips?
Anytime you are dealing with animals and nature, there is an inherent risk of injury. We attempt to make every trip as safe as possible. We have emergency plans, and we take many precautions. On every trip, we try to have an RN, EMT, or someone that is first aid-certified on staff. Our medical personnel will also be carrying a satellite cell phone. However, we cannot guarantee anyone’s safety as accidents can happen.
The trip sounds difficult. Will I be able to complete the trip?
In almost 25 years and over 2,000 people, we have had less than 8 drop out. Most of these people have dropped out for personal reasons and not because they were unable to complete the trip.
If I have to cancel my trip, can I get my money back?
All monies paid are nonrefundable. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU PURCHASE TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE. 1-800-826-1300 TRAVEL GUARD 1-800-348-9505 CSA TRAVEL.
Those that have canceled we will honor what we have done in the past.
We are booking up so far in advance now that the only way to make it work for us is for you to purchase trip insurance. People's intentions are honest, but they can’t predict what family wedding or some other function that they have to attend pops up. In the past, we were looking at 2-5 cancellations a year when people were booking 6 months in advance. People are now booking 12-15 months in advance, so we are now dealing with 10-20 cancellations per year; those turn into 10-20 spots I can’t sell, thus the change in policy.
To protect yourself, you need to purchase trip insurance.
Thanks for your understanding.
How do I know I won’t get a dead head horse?
The way you answer the questions on our registration form will determine your horse. How you perform during the cattle handling seminar and the horsemanship clinic will determine if you stay on that horse or get moved to another one. We want you on a horse that fits your skill level! It is safer for you and everyone else around you.
Will I have phone service?
You may have service in certain areas in the valley, but I wouldn’t count on it! There is no cell phone coverage in the mountains. Besides, I don’t recall cell phones being available in the 1880s.
What do I do for personal hygiene?
It’s called a creek. Many people jump in, wash their hair and say it is very refreshing. I call it damn cold and prefer to leave the dirt on for a week!
How do I know that I’m going to get what you say?
We are happy to provide all of the references that you would like, and they probably will be from your very own state.
My son or daughter would like this as a graduation present. Will they be safe?
My crew is very professional. We are a family operation and have our own children along. Here again, I would be willing to provide all the references that you would like.
What is the purpose of the plastic ground sheet?
The plastic ground sheet will keep you dry during the night. If we have bad weather, the plastic sheet will keep your stuff dry while we are out riding.
Hints from a September Cattle Drive guest:
This was my all-time favorite vacation. Incredible! And now I have a few suggestions for any first‑timers:
- You can bring 2 suitcases on this trip. Really! You just cannot use it all for part of the trip.
- The temp varies widely during the day, so wear layers. Best first layer is a light long-sleeved shirt, especially for the day you ride down the mountain because it gets hot, but you want protection from branches and sun. Those who wore under armor down into the valley were undressing to get it off when the temp reached high 70s.
- Next layers for me were zip-front hooded sweatshirt and North Face jacket or a waterproof winter jacket, depending on the temp that day. I get cold easily, so it is more than most needed. You have to get off the horse to take off a layer, so a zipper allows you to warm up or cool off some without getting off so often. It is helpful to have pockets with zippers, so you don’t lose things as you jog. I wore a jogger’s face mask that covered nose, cheeks, and neck. It is good for warmth, sun protection, and dust. It is easy to pull up and down as needed. A scarf works well, also.
- Your feet go from cold to hot to cold. Generic un-medicated foot powder helps, and extra socks to change.
- For bathroom needs away from camp, a travel pack of Kleenex works well; a few empty Ziploc baggies to carry trash back in is helpful. Add a Wet One wipe in a bag, and you can wash after.
- For warmth in the sleeping bag, I kept a small fleece blanket inside my bag to keep the draft out around my neck. Hotties brand adhesive toe warmers sure help to keep feet warm, and they have larger ones you can place on your stomach or neck. Wonderful. Small backpacking pillows are nice.
- For skin irritation on inner knees or heels or elsewhere, try Moleskin or duct tape. If you put it on early, it works best. Also, long johns reduce friction on inner knees. Wrangler sells jeans with inseams sewn on the outside of the pant leg to help even more. If you want chaps, get the chinks (half chaps) because they do not cause creases when you bend your knees astride the horse.
- The wash area is wonderful. Even so, it is convenient to have face wipes and body wipes so you can wash up in the tent. Fingernail clippers help with broken nails (I broke every one).
- You can bring snacks, but they feed you so well that I did not use mine. They supply snack foods in the lunch supplies, also.
This trip is a very fun and challenging experience. I highly recommend it. —Amy